SECRETS OF BRAKING
Repeat this. You can only go as fast as you can stop. Motocross tracks have lots of low-speed corners, where the ability to slow the bike down quickly translates into getting it back up to speed when exiting the
turn. Anyone can go fast on straightaways. Straights are one place where there is no difference between Jeremy McGrath and you. However, there is a big difference at the end of the straight. Jeremy can go faster
longer and still make the turn—you have to coast. But, if you learn the secrets of braking, you can go in deeper and come out faster.
SECRETS OF BRAKING
These are the ten keys to effective braking.
Tip One: Don’t brake too soon. Going in deep is the only way that a racer should attack a corner. Coasting into corners is time wasted (especially when magnified by ten or more corners per lap).
Tip Two: Use
brake markers. Road race courses have countdown signs leading into a corner. A pavement pilot can
choose to apply the brakes at signs 3, 2 or 1. Motocrossers don’t have braking markers, but that doesn’t mean
that you can’t pick out a hay bale, flagman, water sprinkler or rock and use it as a marker. Once you pick your braking points, use the same spot lap after lap. Most riders begin braking earlier and earlier as a
Tip Three: If you are going to use your brakes, use them hard. Don’t pussyfoot around. When you decide to use them—use them.
Tip Four: Brake while the bike is upright. Do the majority
of your braking on the approach to the corner (when the bike is still going in a straight line). An upright bike puts the most rubber on the ground and can withstand brake lock-up, skidding and rough ground better
than a leaned-over one.
Tip Five: Depend on your front brake. The front brake does 70 percent of the braking. The rear brake is largely for directional control, to keep the engine running and for brake
slides. If you want to stop in a hurry, you will have to use the front brake.
Tip Six: Sand, mud and hills require less braking. Going up a steep hill doesn’t require as much braking to slow or stop the
bike because gravity is working against the bike’s momentum. By the same token, sand and mud create additional drag that aid in braking. Read the terrain and adjust your braking accordingly.
Off-camber hills and corners require a light touch on the brakes. Too much rear brake on an off-camber typically results in skid marks on your pants.
Tip Eight: Adjust your levers to suit your braking style.
The front brake should be set up so that there is only a small amount of free-play in the lever. You want the front brake to be activated by the bending action of the first knuckle of your fingers and locked up by
the time the second knuckle bends.
Tip Nine: Be prepared to pull the clutch in. If you are trying to outbrake the guy in front of you going into the next turn, you may want to pull the clutch in (especially
on a 125 or four-stroke). Pulling the clutch in allows you to use the front and rear brakes to the max without killing the engine.
Tip Ten: Master the brake slide. Brake sliding reached its zenith in the late
‘70s as an effective braking technique. When you lock up the rear brake, the rear of the bike can be forced to slide around the corner—completing two tasks at the same time. While the rear wheel is sliding, the
front brake is used to pin the front wheel to the apex. In essence, you lock the rear wheel up and slide the bike around the inside apex of the turn and then pull the trigger and go once you’re lined up with the
next straight. This is especially effective in hairpins, uphill corners and on hard-packed dirt.